Council Tax Setting Committee Minutes

Date:
Thursday, 12th January, 2017
Time:
7.00pm
Place:
Meeting Room 1, Town Lodge, Gernon Road, Letchworth Garden City
 
 

Attendance Details

Present:
Councillor T.W. Hone (Chairman), Councillor Ian Albert, Councillor Tony Hunter, Councillor Mrs L.A. Needham and Councillor R.A.C. Thake.
In attendance:
Strategic Director of Finance, Policy & Governance, Head of Revenues, Benefits & IT and Committee & Member Services Manager.
Item Description/Decision
PART I
1 APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
There were no apologies for absence.
2 MINUTES
RESOLVED: That the Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 29 February 2016 be approved as a true record of the proceedings and signed by the Chairman.
3 NOTIFICATION OF OTHER BUSINESS
There was no notification of other business.
4 CHAIRMAN'S ANNOUNCEMENTS
The Chairman reminded Members that, in line with the Code of Conduct, any Declarations of Interest needed to be declared immediately prior to the item in question.
5 PUBLIC PARTICIPATION
There was no public participation.
6 COUNCIL TAX BASE 2017/18
The Committee considered a report of the Head of Revenues, Benefits and Information Technology seeking approval of the Council Tax Base for 2017/2018. The report contained the following appendices:

Appendix A - Council Tax Base by Parish 2017/18;
Appendix B - Variations in Council Tax levels by Parish; and
Appendix C - Example of Council Tax Base calculation for Letchworth Garden City.

The Head of Revenues, Benefits and Information Technology advised that the 2017/18 Council Tax Base figures for each Parish contained in Appendix A to the report assumed a 1% non-collection rate. The Council Tax Base for 2017/18 was proposed to be £48,648.70.

The Head of Revenues, Benefits and Information Technology confirmed that Appendix B detailed the amounts by which the Council Tax for each Parish would change by virtue of the impact of the Council Tax Reduction Scheme for 2017/18. These increased for some parishes and decreased for others, although the amounts were relatively small in all cases.

In accordance with Standing Order 4.8.16(h), the Chairman requested that a Recorded Vote be taken on the Council Tax Base 2017/18.

(Voting:
For: Councillors Ian Albert, T.W. Hone, Tony Hunter, Mrs L.A. Needham and R.A.C. Thake - 5
Against: 0
Abstentions: 0)

It was therefore

RESOLVED:

(1) That a non-collection rate of 1% for 2017/2018 be approved; and

(2) That the amount calculated by this Council as its Council Tax Base for 2016/2017 shall be £48,648.70, and that the individual sums shown for each Parish, as set out in Appendix A to the report, be agreed.

REASON FOR DECISION: To fulfil the statutory requirement to set a Council Tax Base for the District and to enable Major and Local Precepting Authorities to set their levels of Council Tax for 2017/2018.
7 NATIONAL NON-DOMESTIC RATE RETURN 1 - 2017/2018
he Committee considered the report of the Head of Revenues, Benefits and Information Technology in respect of the National Non-Domestic Rate Return 1 (NNDR1).

The Head of Revenues, Benefits and Information Technology stated that the report suggested that the Council would most likely to be unable to meet the Government deadline of 31 January 2017 for submission of its NNDR1 return form. This was primarily due to changes required by the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG), but which had not been communicated in a timely manner to the software suppliers, despite the warnings of those suppliers to the DCLG that, without these changes being agreed, there was very little chance of any local authority being able to adhere to the 31 January 2017 deadline.

The Head of Revenues, Benefits and Information Technology advised that officers had been in regular communication with Northgate (the NHDC software supplier) prior to Christmas and since. Northgate had been working throughout the Christmas period, into the evenings and at weekends, and it had been confirmed on 9 January 2017 that the new software could be supplied on 13 January 2017.

The Head of Revenues, Benefits and Information Technology commented that, even though the Committee was unable to consider the proposed NNDR1 return, the Council may be able to meet the 31 January 2017 deadline, with the return being authorised via delegated authority. He added that the Software User Groups were proposing to put in writing to the DCLG how unsatisfactory the process had been, in the hope that this would not be repeated in the future.

The Committee supported the proposal of the Software User Groups to write to the DCLG expressing disappointment at the unsatisfactory process referred to above, which had meant that undue pressure had been placed on software suppliers, and hence local authorities, to meet the 31 January 2017 deadline.

In debating the report, the Committee was informed that Paragraph 7.8, concerning Section 31 grants, had been included in error, and should be removed.

In respect of comments made regarding the revised Transitional Relief Scheme, the Head of Revenues, Benefits and Information Technology undertook to provide details of this Scheme for inclusion in the Members’ Information Service (MIS) and to send it to the District’s Town Centre Managers to pass on to local businesses.

The Strategic Director of Finance, Policy and Governance alerted the Committee to the fact that, due to the uncertainties regarding Business Rates revaluation, the authorities in the Hertfordshire Business Rates Pool had written to the Secretary of State requesting that the Pool be dissolved for 2017/18, but reserving their position to reinstate the Pool for 2018/19. The authority for this decision was delegated to the Strategic Director of Finance, Policy and Governance, in consultation with the Executive Member for Finance and IT. The Committee endorsed this approach.

The Committee also supported a minor change to recommendation 2.1 in the report, to clarify that the Council “may be unable” rather than “is unable” to submit its NNDR1 for 2017/18 by the statutory deadline of 31 January 2017.

RESOLVED:

(1) That the current position and the reasons why the Council may be unable to submit its NNDR1 for 2017/18 by the statutory deadline of 31 January 2017 be noted;

(2) That completion of the NNDR1 Return be delegated to the Strategic Director of Finance, Policy and Governance, in consultation with the Chairman of the Committee;

(3) That the support of the Committee to the proposal of the Software User Groups to write to the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) expressing disappointment in the process for agreeing changes for NNDR1 be referred to by the Head of Revenues, Benefits and Information Technology in the User Group’s letter to the DCLG; and

(4) That the approach that the Hertfordshire Business Rates Pool be dissolved for 2017/18, but reserving the right for the Pool to be reinstated for 2018/19, be endorsed, the authority for such decisions being delegated to the Strategic Director of Finance, Policy and Governance, in consultation with the Executive Member for Finance and IT.

REASON FOR DECISION: To comply, as far as the Council is able, with statutory requirements.
Published on Thursday, 19th January, 2017
7.27pm